LEGAL and human rights experts are concerned about the impact the federal government's latest counter terrorism measures could have on the broader community.
Speaking in Canberra on Monday, Mr Abbott said the government's Counter Terrorism Review commissioned last August revealed Australia faced a growing terrorist threat with a significant 'home grown' element.
He listed a raft of measures the government will implement to reduce the threat, including prosecution of returning foreign fighters, suspension of citizenship and cancellation of welfare payments.
Mr Abbott said the government would take action against hate preachers through law enforcement and new programs to challenge terrorist propaganda.
He said Man Haron Monis, responsible for the deaths of two Australians at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, was a prime example of someone who had been given "the benefit of the doubt" too many times by government, legal aid and police.
"When it comes to someone like the Martin Place murderer, people feel like we have been taken for mugs," Mr Abbott said.
Bendigo lawyer and ARC Justice executive officer Paul Noble said he felt uncomfortable about the proposed reforms not because the government shouldn't address terrorism, but because the debate was being "warped by rhetoric".
“Some of the language being used makes me feel like I’m being backed into a corner and told: “Either accept the need for changes or sink further into your critic’s armchair happily giving terrorists the benefit of the doubt," he said.
Mr Noble said that systems for residency, citizenship, welfare payments, bail or accessing a defence lawyer through legal aid, all seemed to fall foul of the Prime Ministers 'mug' test.
"No one likes being taken for a mug, but tarnishing well established legal processes through this language is misleading," Mr Noble said.
"These processes are well articulated and discretion is exercised within clear parameters.
"That is not to say the goalposts can’t change but we need to be clear about when and why.
"For example, what crimes (or suspected activities) might give rise to denying welfare or legal aid? Would it include child abuse or family violence?
"What impact would this denial have on the individuals involved and the communities of which they are a part?"
Amnesty International Bendigo group secretary David Hook took issue with Mr Abbott's comment that there was "always a trade-off between the rights of an individual and the safety of the community".
"Acts of terror are very frightening but they affect a tiny portion of the population," Mr Hook said.
"We don't stop driving cars because of the road toll and we shouldn't accept reduced human rights because of a terror threat."
Federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the national security issue should be subject to mature debate "not premised on fear but on our rights".